“You may remember, Sir Arius, that this is and remains my house, and while within you shall be obligated to my rules, inasmuch as is possible. The Matron Tyletus has arrived here at my beckoning to partake of our familial custom and ideally to smooth over any feathers ruffled during the day. In a way,” she continued, making direct and unblinking eye contact, “I am overwhelmed at your outpouring of the most obvious affection for myself and my own, but please allow me from here on in to make such decisions as to the status of houses and the breaking of strong men upon the battlefields.”
He grasped his chin, pausing thoughtfully at length before giving answer, while a room filled with strangely glistening eyes fixated upon his deep set features shadowed in the chandelier light. “Then allow me to apologize to the Lady of Tyletus,” he rejoined, standing at a torso-length bow, “whom I so clearly abused thanks to the exhilaration of the day’s bloodletting.”
She clearly hadn’t been contented, and the strain on her face was most obvious, curling ever further into some terrible eldritch thing far beyond the sullen nature of a mere frown, but ignoring the candor of the kinsmen’s slayer she resumed the whispering, hissing colloquium with the Matron Barsica while once again eating utensils scratched upon wondrously lacquered plateware. His continuing stand went unacknowledged, and the room resented his presence thoroughly and once again.
He collapsed again upon his marked station and stared across at his grinning betrothed as if his only respite remaining in this life, his strongly-marked chin resting upon the table’s well-planed timbers stained in the carmine of wild cherries.
“I don’t even know what I’m doing here,” he intoned below the general din, while the Lady Rina drew close to hear, letting clatter unpleasantly her dining implements upon the sealed table. “What am I doing here? I’m only following the script, doing what I’d been expected to do, doing what I would do, considering—what have I done wrong?” he continued somberly.
“The other women will resent you generally,” she replied with unforeseen insight, “and what passes for males will assume the intent of their mothers, generally speaking the various Ga Zakazi of the house. You will not be loved; you will not be adored; you probably won’t be provided any approximation of decent behavior, lest you carve it from their skulls still screaming.”
“You’ve been reading epic literature.”
“You know me. It’s difficult not to, all things considered. And besides, why don’t you away with me and allow the guards a few fair moments of respite? Heaven knows they’ve been worked to the bone keeping all different manner of murderous intruder from penetrating the house and letting open the new flood-gates of immeasurable bloodbath.”
“But I still haven’t eaten.”
“And you won’t. Even valid men are prohibited in this regard.”
“Fine. Let us away.”